No seniors on JHS’s volleyball team but plenty of leadership
It's no misprint. You won’t find a single senior on the roster of Jefferson’s 24-win volleyball team.
But what you will find is a group of more than qualified juniors — led by Taylor Cramsey, Cassie Metcalf, Amanda Daniel and Eden Starnes — that has the Dragons (24-6, 11-0) striding toward the best season in program history.
“Yeah, I don’t feel any different with us not being seniors,” Cramsey said. “It just feels natural because we’ve all been playing for so long. It just feels natural to lead the team and pick them up. I don’t feel a difference being a junior.”
After a school-best 24-11 campaign last year, Jefferson has already tied that win total and locked up the 8-AA/A North sub-area crown as it awaits the postseason.
Jefferson coach Mike Paul notes that three of his juniors are three-year starters in a Jefferson volleyball program that’s only existed for five years. So these juniors are like seniors.
“They’ve got a good bit of experience,” Paul said. “They’re not satisfied to be mediocre.”
To that end, the team’s goal is to qualify for the state tournament again and hopefully make some noise once there. Jefferson remembers being bounced from the first round of the Class AA/A tournament a year ago and plans on hanging around longer if given the chance.
Daniel thinks the team can fulfill its goals. She points to the team’s chemistry, which has only grown stronger as the wins have piled up.
“At the beginning of the year, we weren’t really bonded together,” Daniel said. “And I think now, we finally have that and we’ve been playing a lot better.”
While these juniors have thrived as a collective, there have been some great individual efforts thus far, too.
Daniel, the primary setter in Jefferson’s 5-1 offense, has already surpassed the 400-assist mark on the year, doubling the previous school record. Metcalf ranks no. 3 in the state is all-classifications with 92 aces (as of last week). Cramsey has 222 kills (as of last week) and boasts a .360 hitting percentage.
Meanwhile, Starnes’ presence has been invaluable.
“Without her athleticism on the floor, we’re not the same team,” Paul said.
But Jefferson’s success extends beyond these core four juniors. Paul praises players like Sarah Wood, Brianna Patterson, Savanna Holland and Savannah Bogue for their contributions this year.
“It’s just a well-rounded team,” Paul said. “They understand their role.”
And the team is clicking.
Jefferson has won 16 of its last 19 matches, with its most recent setback coming at home Sept. 16 to North Oconee(25-16, 23-25, 25-23).
The Dragons were able to rebound, however, and beat rival Jackson County (25-15, 25-14) that same night.
“It was good for us to be able to see what we could do after an emotional loss … We got a chance to show that we could rebound emotionally,” Paul said.
Now, the team looks to finish the regular season strong.
Jefferson has a weekend tournament and two other matches remaining. The region tournament starts Oct. 5, but Jefferson will have a first-round bye.
So while the Dragons have their sights on big things year, they’re having plenty of fun along the way – especially those leading the team.
“This is probably the best year we’ve had as a team,” Metcalf said, “and as a family and stuff like that.”
Jefferson beat Rabun County 25-22, 25-10 and East Hall 25-23, 25-14 Tuesday night.